What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses creativity and art media as its primary mode of communication for self-exploration. In Art Therapy, skills and techniques are not required, and it has a number of benefits, one of them being its ability to activate the body’s relaxation response and reduce stress reactions for people of all ages.
Why Art Therapy?
As the pandemic spread globally, Chinese international students not only needed to adapt to the new culture and society of the receiving country, but also needed to isolate in their home and avoid non-essential travel to China in order to flatten the curve. Therefore, having access to low-barrier therapeutic activity such as art therapy is extremely beneficial for self-care, self-expression and positive psychological well-being.
For this project, eight Chinese international students were asked to make and design collages by using mixed media. The goal was to help individuals to appreciate their limitations, strengths, and emotional states through self-expressions. The students benefited from using mixed media not only because they can use different art materials that were easily accessible, but also they can use photography, poetry, or other written content to directly express their feelings and emotions, which made the therapeutic process more meaningful.
Here are the artworks that were completed by our participants:
“I was born in China and I am living in Canada.
I am standing on the land of Canada and I am ready to soak up this new culture.”
“I used to have dinners with my whole family all the time, but everything has changed now and after.
I wish I can fly back to China and have some traditional Chinese food.
I wish I can meet up with my family in person and not on a screen.
I wish I can be more alive.
“The human brain is one of the most complex things that we have yet discovered in our universe. With all the efforts that we put in, we started to understand other languages rather than our own. As a Chinese international student, it is like a miracle to me to start using my non-primary language to study and communicate in another country.
When I am writing this paragraph, I am being proud of myself and to all of you!”
My Ideal Wardrobe
“I chose these pictures as I don’t like my current life. I don’t feel like being myself but I don’t know what myself should look like. I want some changes. Now.
I decided to try art therapy because it is something super new to me and I know new things are always sparkling, this spark is a strength of conviction.”
The Sky Space
“I used different sky photographs to create this mixed media collage. It represents FREEDOM, which is what I need the most at this moment.
It took me a while at the beginning of the workshop to think how to express my actual feelings; I looked up and wondered what if the ceiling becomes the sky?”
“I think this piece of art represents the current me. The background is a traditional Chinese residence, which symbolizes my cultural background. The process of adding colourful pictures to the black-and-white background is similar to exposing myself to the local life in Canada. Everything is so different and so attractive. But these are the add-ons only.”
“I feel my heart is like the empty room, needing something to occupy it.
Covid-19 made me feel like there’s no tomorrow, but only ‘I’ can change the situation around me, and participating in this art therapy workshop is a great start.”
“Gazing from across the shore, with sand in my hand and sound in my head.”